Tuesday, January 14, 2014


What Is Autism?
Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills and rigid, repetitive behaviors. The disorder covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. It ranges in severity from a handicap that limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care. Some of the different types of autism spectrum disorders include:
  • Autistic disorder. This is what most people think of when they hear the word "autism." It refers to problems with social interactions, communication, and imaginative play in children younger than 3 years.
  • Asperger's syndrome. These children don't have a problem with language -- in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have the same social problems and limited scope of interests as children with autistic disorder.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder or PDD -- also known as atypical autism. This is a kind of catch-all category for children who have some autistic behaviors but who don't fit into other categories.
  • Rett syndrome. Known to occur mainly in girls, children with Rett syndrome start developing normally but begin to lose their communication and social skills. Beginning at the age of 1 to 4 years, repetitive hand movements replace purposeful use of the hands.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: These children develop normally for at least two years and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills. This is an extremely rare disorder and its existence as a separate condition is a matter of debate among many mental health professionals.

What are some of the symptoms of ASD?
There is no single symptom that would lead to a diagnosis of autism. But someone who shows a number of the following characteristics and behaviours would likely be diagnosed with an ASD:

Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior. But because autism symptoms and severity vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. In most cases, though, children with severe autism have marked impairments or a complete inability to communicate or interact with other people.

Some children show signs of autism in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life, but then suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills they've already acquired.

Though each child with autism is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior, these are some common autism symptoms:

Social skills
 Fails to respond to his or her name
 Has poor eye contact
    Appears not to hear you at times
    Resists cuddling and holding
    Appears unaware of others' feelings                        
    Seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
    Doesn't ask for help or request things              

Doesn't speak or has delayed speech
Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
Doesn't make eye contact when making requests
Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
Can't start a conversation or keep one going
May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them
Doesn't appear to understand simple questions or directions

Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
    Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
    Moves constantly or extremely passive
    May be fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn't understand the "big picture" of the subject

    May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch, and yet oblivious to pain
    Does not engage in imitative or make-believe play
    May have odd food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or craving items that are not food, such as chalk or dirt
    May perform activities that could cause self-harm, such as headbanging

Young children with autism also have a hard time sharing experiences with others. When read to, for example, they're unlikely to point at pictures in the book. This early-developing social skill is crucial to later language and social development.

As they mature, some children with autism become more engaged with others and show fewer disturbances in behavior. Some, usually those with the least severe problems, eventually may lead normal or near-normal lives. Others, however, continue to have difficulty with language or social skills, and the teen years can bring worse behavioral problems.

Most children with autism are slow to gain new knowledge or skills, and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with autism have normal to high intelligence. These children learn quickly, yet have trouble communicating, applying what they know in everyday life and adjusting in social situations. A small number of children with autism are savants — they have exceptional skills in a specific area, such as art, math or music

When to see a doctor/Healthcare Practitioner (medical Therapists).
Babies develop at their own pace, and many don't follow exact timelines found in some parenting books. But children with autism usually show some signs of delayed development within the first year. If you suspect that your child may have autism, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The symptoms associated with autism can also be associated with other developmental disorders.The earlier that treatment begins, the more effective it will be.

Your doctor may recommend more developmental tests if your child:
 Doesn't respond with a smile or happy expression by 6 months
    Doesn't mimic sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
    Doesn't babble or coo by 12 months
    Doesn't gesture — such as point or wave — by 12 months
    Doesn't say single words by 16 months
    Doesn't say two-word phrases by 24 months
    Loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age

          How is ASD diagnosed?

There is no single test that will confirm that someone has an ASD. A diagnosis is based on the number and pattern of typical characteristics and on the observation of specific behaviours and disabilities.
Someone with a mild case could go undiagnosed for years, and it might only be detected when the person goes through a crisis that brings contact with professionals who are able to recognize the disorder.

What causes ASD?

Nobody's certain. It's generally accepted that autism is a neurological disorder. Research is focusing on genetics, differences in brain function, environmental factors, viral infections and immune responses and deficiencies and still ongoing.

How is autism treated?

There are different treatment options for Autism.It may include combining one or more treatment approaches.Some of the treatment approaches includes

Dieting:Depends on child.But from experience and parents testimonies,most hyperactive kids really benefit from being placed on Casein and gluten free diet.

Sensory Integration-which tends to treat the root cause of Sensory Processing Disorder,the main foundational effect of Autism of which other symptoms results from. This important treatment approach will later be expantiated on later.

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI), Sonrise programs are designed to actively engage children with communication, socialization, learning and behavioural problems.

I shall be taking treatment approaches one by one on this blog.

I really would love for parents to network on this blog, share ideas and opinions concerning therapies, therapists, diet recipes and other issues concerning kids with special needs.

Your feedback would be really appreciated.

To read more: Autismspeaks.org,  ont-autism.uoguelph.ca, nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/autism

Images courtesy of  askepupdate.blogspot.com, childswork.com, effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov,  autism.am,  specialeducationadvisor.com, bbc.co.uk

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Occupational Therapist

When i tell people i am an occupational Therapist, i either get a confused nod or they immediately think it has to do with career occupations. Well, i shall try my best to explain as simply as possible and direct you to other links where you can get more information about this wonderful profession.

Occupational Therapists  are healthcare professionals. We use skilled, evidence-based interventions to enable people of all ages to participate in the activities of life that are most important to them          (still not getting it?)

Occupations in Occupational Therapy means Therapeutic evidence based activities targeted to treat, teach or maintain skills. It could be physical activities (therapeutic exercises), cognitive or social skill based. People get stuck on the term “occupation” only as a job.
Yes, your job might be a really important activity to you, but so are lots of other things that you might take for granted. Think of all the activities that are really important to you : buttoning a shirt to get dressed, combing your hair, driving your car, making a meal, signing checks. All of these things are your “occupations”. For kids, these activities typically include play, school work and self-care.

 When a child has a developmental delay, disability, or injury that prevents them from participating in their occupations, occupational therapists are the ones to call.

We complete comprehensive evaluations, create treatment goals to address areas of delay, and provide therapy on a daily, weekly, or consultative basis in a variety of settings.

For more info go to  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_therapist

Images courtesy of: www.occupational-therapy.advanceweb.com

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The child with Cerebral Palsy

Hi guys,I have been having issues with internet and my computer,but all has been resolved.I would like to start off with introducing and writing about common paediatric conditions and then move on to various approaches and professionals involved before start talking about therapeutic activities. 
Please feel free to comment,ask questions and put your input on the blog.
Also I am no skilled writer just an aspiring one.So please forgive any typos .
I shall be starting with Cerebral Palsy.I tried to make it as short as possible,so sorry it’s still a bit long.

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of movement disorders,these conditions are not caused by problems of nerves and muscles.This disorder affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or start talking about activities.
The brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can also lead to secondary health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities.
 Complications are common factors that interrupts normal developmental processes of the brain), during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life.
There is no cure for CP, but treatment, therapy, special equipments like splints and other orthortic devices and, in some cases, surgery can help a child who is living with the condition.

About Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing before birth ,at birth or after birth) disorders of childhood.
The three types of CP are:
  1. spastic cerebral palsy — causes stiffness and movement difficulties
  2. athetoid cerebral palsy — leads to involuntary and uncontrolled movements
  3. ataxic cerebral palsy — causes a disturbed sense of balance and depth perception

Cerebral palsy affects muscle control and coordination, so even simple movements — like crawling,rolling,standing still — are difficult. Other vital functions that also involve motor skills and muscles — such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and learning — may also be affected when a child has CP. Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy
The exact causes of most cases of CP are unknown, but many are the result of problems during pregnancy in which the brain is either damaged or doesn't develop normally. This can be due to infections, maternal health problems, a genetic disorder, or something else that interferes with normal brain development. Problems during labor and delivery can cause CP in some cases. but this is the exception.

Premature babies — particularly those who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,510 grams) — have a higher risk of CP than babies that are carried full-term, as are other low birth weight babies and multiple births, such as twins and triplets.

Brain damage in infancy or early childhood can also lead to CP. A baby or toddler might suffer this damage because of lead poisoning, bacterial meningitis,sepsis, malnutrition, being shaken as an infant (shaken baby syndrome), or being in a car accident while not properly restrained.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
CP may be diagnosed very early in an infant known to be at risk for developing the condition because of premature birth or other health problems. Doctors, such as pediatricians and developmental and neurological specialists, usually follow these kids closely from birth so that they can identify and address any developmental delays or problems with muscle function that might indicate CP.
In a baby carried to term with no other obvious risk factors for CP, it may be difficult to diagnose the disorder in the first year of life. Often doctors aren't able to diagnose CP until they see a delay in normal developmental milestones (such as reaching for toys by 4 months or sitting up by 7 months), which can be a sign of CP.
Abnormal muscle tone, poorly coordinated movements, and the persistence of infant reflexes beyond the age at which they are expected to disappear also can be signs. If these developmental milestones are only mildly delayed, the diagnosis of CP may not be made until the child is a toddler.

Preventing Cerebral Palsy
In many cases the causes of CP are unknown, so there's no way to prevent it. But if you're having a baby, you can take steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy and carry the baby to term, thus lowering the risk that your baby will have CP.

Before becoming pregnant, it's important to maintain a healthy diet and make sure that any medical problems are managed properly. As soon as you know you're pregnant, proper prenatal medical care (including prenatal vitamins and avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs) is vital. If you are taking any medications, review these with your doctor and clarify if there are any side effects that can cause birth defects.

Controlling diabetes, anemia, hypertension, seizures, and nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can help prevent some premature births and, as a result, some cases of cerebral palsy.

Once your baby is born there are actions you can take to lower the risk of brain damage, which could lead to CP. Never shake an infant, as this can lead to shaken baby syndrome and brain damage. If you're riding in a car, make sure your baby is properly strapped into an infant car seat that's correctly installed — if an accident occurs, the baby will be as protected as possible.

 Be aware of lead exposure in your house,exposure to generator set fumes. Remember to have your child get his or her immunizations on time — these shots protect against serious infections, some of which can cause brain damage resulting in CP.

How Cerebral Palsy Affects Development

Kids with CP have varying degrees of physical disability. Some have only mild impairment, while others are severely affected. This depends on the extent of the damage to the brain. For example, brain damage can be very limited, affecting only the part of the brain that controls walking, or can be much more extensive, affecting muscle control of the entire body.

The brain damage that causes CP can also affect other brain functions, and can lead to other medical issues. Associated medical problems may include visual impairment or blindness, hearing loss, food aspiration (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs), gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up), speech problems, drooling, tooth decay, sleep disorders, osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones), and behavior problems.

Seizures, speech and communication problems, and mental retardation are more common among kids with the most severe forms of CP. Many have problems that may require ongoing therapy and devices such as braces or wheelchairs.

Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Currently there's no cure for cerebral palsy, but a variety of resources and therapies can provide help and improve the quality of life for kids with CP.

Different kinds of therapy can help them achieve maximum potential in growth and development. As soon as CP is diagnosed, a child can begin therapy for movement, learning, speech, hearing, and social and emotional development.

In addition, medication, surgery, or braces can help improve muscle function. Orthopedic surgery can help repair dislocated hips and scoliosis (curvature of the spine), which are common problems associated with CP. 

Severe muscle spasticity can sometimes be helped with medication taken by mouth or administered via a pump (the baclofen pump) implanted under the skin(see your Doctor for further information)

A variety of medical specialists might be needed to treat the different medical conditions. (For example, a neurologist might be needed to treat seizures or a pulmonologist might be needed to treat breathing difficulties.) 
If several medical specialists are needed, it's important to have a primary care doctor or a CP specialist help you coordinate the care of your child.
A team of professionals will work with you to meet your child's needs. That team may include therapists, psychologists, educators, nurses, and social workers.
Many resources are available to help and support you in caring for your child.

Stem cells
 Stem researchers  are of the opinion that  traditional treatments could improve motor functions in a certain extent, but in reality they are not aimed at treating the cause of the disease.
No matter what caused cerebral palsy, there is a decrease in the number of brain nerve cells with normal function. The traditional treatments are not able to increase the number of nerve cells in the brain, neither to have the nerve damage repaired.

Through years of research and therapeutic practice, WSCMC discovered that neural stem cell implantation treatment not only can effectively increase the number of brain nerve cells, but also is able to start the re-development of the neurological process. The treatments are combined with the necessary drugs and rehabilitation, so that 80% transplanted neural cells are able to show function, so as to make the patients obtain much more improvements in neurological function.

However U.S national Institute of health is still gathering data to study the efficacy of stem cells.

Botox treatment-Best known for reducing wrinkles on the face have been discovered to relax spastic cerebral palsy.very limited researches back this claims

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special chamber, sometimes called a pressure chamber, to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. The air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about two and a half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere. This helps your blood carry more oxygen to organs and tissues in your body.

It has been used in a number of cerebral palsy cases BUT cerebral palsy is NOT one of its treatment indications. 

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society recommends  that HBO2 should not be used for any other indication except in the context of controlled clinical trials. Although HBO2 is relatively safe, like stem cells  until the results of a randomized, controlled trial are available, we would suggest that HBO2 not be recommended as a treatment for CP in children.

Images courtesy of: childrenshospitaltrust.org.za